Most marketers treat marketing data like a Star Wars geek treats action figures. They like collecting it, but they never play with it. To be fair, collecting data is the easy part. The ability to obtain data is built into most digital marketing tools, and accessing that data is as easy as clicking a link or two. Understanding the tools and methods for exploiting that data is a much more complex proposition, but that doesn’t mean there are no easy ways to get started.
If you are just getting started, and you don’t know your head from your Hadoop, Intel has a great guide for marketers and IT folks alike. The guide covers the IT landscape, the basics of collecting and analyzing data, and some basic steps to get the entire organization focused on and prepared to implement a big data program.
If you are familiar with the basics, there are a number of ways you can up your game. Most major universities offer professional education programs. For example, MIT annually offers a class called Tackling the Challenges of Big Data (though by the time you read this, you may have to wait for its 2017 appearance). Plus, there are a number of professional certification programs available through enterprise software vendors. Here’s a great overview of some that are available and for whom they were created.
Becoming a Jedi Master:
Somewhat ironically, the pinnacle of data mastery is not crunching numbers but crafting and presenting the story the numbers tell. As data sets become increasingly massive, data visualization can be the most efficient means to help you see the story in the data and present it to your organization with enough clarity to drive better decision making. Data visualization is an area of great innovation and presents an ever-changing landscape. Expect to find religious-style fervor from supporters, zealots, and evangelists from various camps. CIO.com has a nice rundown of the current leaders in the space.
Most of us entered marketing because the math requirements were lower, and no one said the word “algorithm” in polite company. But the days of running a modern marketing program on “feel” have passed. Hopefully, this quick roadmap will help you start taking the data out of the box so you can play with it.
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